IFLS is an intended result of Science

LAX: What is that supposed to mean
REZ: whats what supposed to mean
LAX: “objectivity is a big fucking meme, just like science”
REZ: it’s the same group of people and same mentality
REZ: IFLS is effectively a religion
REZ: or if you’re a bit more highbrow, the Rationality Community e.g. Less Wrong, Slate Star Codex et. all
LAX: Are you saying you’re opposed to science?
LAX: Science and being objective are appropriate in certain situations
REZ: I am opposed to both science and IFLSers, though they’re two slightly different topics
REZ: well, i suppose it could be seen as two slightly different ways of being the same thing
LAX: How can you be opposed to science yet use a computer?
REZ: my using a computer has nothing to do with science
LAX: It’s a byproduct of science
REZ: i will give you 5 more arguments until i stop this line because it’s base as fuck and wastes my time
LAX: I get being opposed to the IFLS shitlords
REZ: it’s a byproduct of a bunch of things which aren’t science too; doesn’t mean anything
REZ: it’s like saying haha aren’t communists funny they complain about capitalism but they still buy things
REZ: communists are idiots but that’s not a legitimate argument to level against them
REZ: they have about as much choice to not buy things as they do to evade taxes or not drive cars or not speak english
REZ: there’s one great thing that everyone touts about science and it’s that it’s self correcting
REZ: which is completely nonunique since every way of thinking has methods of self correcting
REZ: religions have priests who interpret their holy books, science has scientists who interpret their experimental results
REZ: i forget the number but something came out recently showing that something like 1/2 or 2/3 of scientific papers in recent years have experiments which aren’t reproducible
REZ: in english that means “most of recent science is effectively made up shit and not science”
LAX: I know of this
REZ: science isn’t so great that i have to acknowledge tribute to it by using something i have to use in order to live
REZ: science sticks its name in a bunch of things just because it’s only ever so marginally related
REZ: like a college claiming “oh yeah that famous guy? he went here.”
REZ: whereas the vast majority of people who’ve actually been to college can tell you, it really isn’t that special.
REZ: except for the partying.
REZ: when colleges start saying “oh yeah that famous guy? he partied here. and that’s why he’s famous” instead of pretending it’s some great knowledge or insight he gained through hard work and education, i’ll take another look.
REZ: same with science.
REZ: but if they do that, then their credibility goes out the window, so i won’t have to.
LAX: So you’re not actually opposed to the scientific method, just the way people use science to “seem smart”?
LAX: like people using science to publish a paper that’s just total bullshit?
REZ: why would the difference between what something is and how it manifests matter to me?
REZ: we had this conversation like yesterday
REZ: my brother COULD be something that ISNT a complete literal retard
REZ: but unless it’s demonstrated who cares?
REZ: science COULD be the greatest thing ever but if the big people who are so much smarter and so much more productive than me are 1/2~2/3 LYING about their SHIT then why do i care?
REZ: i don’t have any personal investment in the word or ideology of “science”
REZ: i see its leaders being shit, as far as i’m concerned, it’s shit
REZ: if i remember high school science and youtube atheism from pre-2010 correctly this is the scientific response too
REZ: god COULD exist
REZ: but if we can’t detect him then he’s not in this universe, i.e. he doesn’t exist
REZ: that’s the big problem
REZ: the other problem which is somewhat related is science is one of the mainstream religions
REZ: anything which is NOT “proven by science” is “pseudoscience”
REZ: things which have long existed before science are deemed “immoral” or “wrong”, even if they are accurate predictions and have demonstrable effects, up until the moment some “scientist” records it in an experiment and presents his conclusions to a “scientific community”
REZ: at which point it becomes truth, oh look we were wrong this whole time, isn’t it great we have science to correct our ways?
REZ: like literally go fuck yourself
REZ: the point, anywhere in any field of human activity, is to be “correct” or to get a job “done”
REZ: whether it’s “scientific” or not is secondary
REZ: and the more i see and hear about science it’s the modern day equivalent of religion in the sense that they’re the gatekeepers of knowledge
REZ: just like media
REZ: “if we say its true its true, if we say its false its false”
REZ: media has eroded a bit thanks to internet and smartphone video but people just keep lapping up whatever they hear when they also hear the word “science” or whatever
REZ: it’s all related
REZ: IFLS is not a mistake, it’s an intended consequence of how science is portrayed and how their people work in our system
LAX: Okay I’m with you now
REZ: good
REZ: laxeris was not an idiot today
LAX: I don’t know about not an idiot.
LAX: But I wasn’t totally retarded
LAX: :3
REZ: yes, which is why i said “today”.
LAX: Sometimes I forget the way you view things and it makes it really hard to comprehend how you come to conclusions
LAX: Like how you put science and science people in the same category. Which makes sense, but not the way I do it.
REZ: people like to recite that one line from v for vendetta, ‘you can’t kill an idea’
REZ: but you can kill people, and you can censor books, and if there are no people to espouse an idea and no one to hear the tree fall in the forest, it doesn’t make a sound
LAX: I dislike that line, it’s pretty stupid
REZ: in obverse: an idea is only as much as its people
REZ: i could take the conventional stance, “those guys weren’t real scientists, how horrible they abused our system!”
REZ: but why would i do that?
REZ: people generally don’t reach that question because they just accept that science is correct
REZ: which it might or might not be
REZ: if we’re to believe the great message of science, that we’re always learning and 90% of what we knew 100 years is wrong today and 90% of what we know today will be wrong 100 years from now
REZ: it’s pretty plausible what we think of as “the scientific method” today will look fucking stupid in 100 years
REZ: in which case the only thing retained is the name
REZ: the brand
REZ: the marketing.
REZ: the religion.
REZ: and i don’t care about marketing that brand for free.
REZ: i’m gonna need to get paid.
LAX: I think it’s fair to assume that science is correct a decent amount of the time. But to place one’s entire faith into the results of science and accept it as fact, I completely disagree with too
REZ: i’m not going to assume science is correct even a decent amount of the time
LAX: I think the baseline of what science would change into (should) still remain the same
LAX: To compare them to computers, in 100 years our computers will be slow and basically useless
REZ: first of all stuff we actually operate on day to day doesnt rely on science
REZ: science today is string theory or other nonsense
LAX: But at their cores they’d still be the same fundamental idea
REZ: yes… a same fundamental brand.
REZ: an idea in your head and not related to anything that’s actually done.
LAX: The methods used to “extract data” would still remain fairly the same
REZ: you say this without any knowledge of how university researchers do things today or how university researchers did thing in the enlightenment.
LAX: I don’t need to know the tiny details of how they find things, like what equation they use, or what material etc
LAX: Those things will obviously change
LAX: The core of having an idea, then testing the idea, then retesting the idea should remain the same
LAX: Which is the core of what science is built on
LAX: If that were to change, and it still remained “science” that would be a problem
LAX: But if the catalyst in which science is preformed is changed that doesn’t really affect anything.
REZ: clearly it doesn’t exist anymore then, because 300 years ago a majority of experiments were actually done to retest other people’s ideas, these days everyone’s trying to do their own because that’s what gets published
REZ: which is why you hear about all these studies being done on some really specific super obscure shit that doesn’t matter
REZ: it’s “still science”
REZ: just like how people living in california can “still own a gun”
REZ: have fun marketing pointless research no one’s interested in for grant money and not being able to buy a rifle with a detachable magazine in the current year
LAX: Plenty of people still test old ideas with new variables to see if it still holds ups
LAX: Obiviously not a lot of people though
REZ: undergrads in chem 02a and that’s it.
REZ: you’re right though
REZ: chem 02a is mandatory, so “plenty of people” is an accurate statement.
LAX: Until someone finds a new variable to test the old things with, what would be the point of testing them with the same variables?
LAX: Thus people look for new variables and have to go through the bullshit procedure of getting funding
REZ: “what would be the point of testing them with the same variables”
REZ: well lets see
REZ: lets see if i cant find some textbook-like description of the pillars of science
REZ: actually i dont have to
REZ: you already conceded that the 1/2~2/3 story was true
LAX: Mhm
REZ: the only reason why that story matters is because reproducibility matters
REZ: if i do an experiment and you can’t reproduce it, that means, in science world, that something is wrong
REZ: whether you can’t won’t or don’t is irrelevant
REZ: that it isn’t means science either is dying or isn’t happening

Harsh Times Are Required : A World of Tanks Experience

I’ve been playing a game called World of Tanks for the past month and a half or so.

I had played it a few years back when it just came out of beta and had some fond memories of some of the tanks, but I had dropped and uninstalled it because I got fed up with the lack of power I had over the outcome of the game. The standard mode is 15 minutes, 15 vs 15 with each player in one tank, and everyone only lives once – if you lose all your health you cannot simply hop into another tank and continue. It wasn’t too hard to drop the game since I had picked it up like League of Legends for the purpose of training minimap awareness for Starcraft. This time around I picked it back up as I was invited by a friend who had another group of friends interested in doing company and clan battles, and I had Go, where I am actually in full control and anything that goes wrong is completely my fault.

Coming back there were a lot of changes; quite a few tanks I had remembered being good or at least fun to play had their best guns removed or were reworked entirely. My favorite tank felt largely unchanged but perhaps lacking a bit due to powercreep. As I had not gotten to the higher tiers / endgame of World of Tanks the new tank lines and meta changes didn’t matter to me too much, so I just played it as a new game with somewhat of a head start. At first I was performing about where I was performing historically, approximately the 47% winrate average. One of the friends was very into the numbers and statistics of the game and I learned a lot more about the mechanics, which I had ignored completely the first time around opting for a “feel first think later” approach, and I started looking at my own winrates more closely on the third-party sites that kept track of more stats than the official site, including individual tank stats and daily/weekly/monthly progress.

Learning about which tanks had which guns which did however much damage at whatever penetration, how far away they could see me based on their tank type and equipment, and how fast they could turn or move based on horsepower/tonnage ratio did not raise my winrates by much at all. It raised my daily winrates (50~100 battles/day) from a fairly stable ~47% to an unstable 49%. The two things I did learn were hull-down and sidescraping, which weren’t really about to help me since I wasn’t really yet playing at high enough tiers for these things to be crucial, or otherwise failed by themselves to have any significant statistical impact. I started reading articles written by top tier players and watching their videos and streams, and they bumped me up to a vaguely less unstable 52%. It’s hard and not very informative to compare the two jumps in a numerical way, but it felt substantial enough for me to believe that the future of improvement lay in following the footsteps of the better tankers.

Somewhere along the way I stopped playing regularly with the aforementioned group and played the game on my own. The original inviter turned out to be someone I really didn’t want to play with and for various reasons was clear he is not a person to learn from, and the rest weren’t really looking to be competitive or were unable to explain how they were improving. I had also stopped playing Go for the time being and spent time on other activities when not on WOT, so the “I’m only one man out of fifteen against fifteen, what could I possibly do” came back in full force. My winrate was still about 52%, but became a little more unstable – there were some days I’d hit 55 and other days where it’d go back to 46. I read a post about how team games don’t require teamwork, which helped a little bit more every time I read it, but it didn’t have much effect. Or so it seemed.

This past weekend was horrible, as most weekends are. Reasoning is that more bad players are out on the weekends and since WOT has no ranked games ladder where bad players only see bad players, the games were much more one-sided and the feeling of playing them ranged from “dumb” to “humans are garbage i have lost my faith in humanity”. The difference this time though was I kept trying to play and kept trying to focus. Usually I either 1) get really mad and quit or 2) get really mad and keep on playing. The former leaves me with a bad taste and a lower winrate, the latter leaves me with a worse version of the former.

This time I took no breaks inbetween games and forced myself to remember that this was a new game, with new players, sometimes on a different tank, most of the time on a different map, and even if players are still probably going to be bad because it’s the weekend, they might do something I can work with this time, and even if they don’t get better, I can get better, and that at least requires some experience in trying to apply what I’ve learned.

I forget what my winrates were, I didn’t bother to record them because they weren’t out of the ordinary. On the lower side of normal things.

This is what happened after last weekend:

Those were my numbers after Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday were something like 62 and 68 respectively; I didn’t record them because I thought they were anomalies of some kind. I thought it might’ve been RNG or MM (MatchMaking) favoring me, or perhaps it was because I was playing too much of tanks I liked (T-34, tier 5; T-150, tier 6) rather than grinding through tanks I wasn’t so comfortable in towards higher tiers. But three days in and a last minute check before bed opened my eyes pretty wide.

Thursday felt pretty bad and it was something like 56 at the end of the day. Today was the worst I’ve felt in WOT for a fairly long period of time and I simply quit after a fairly short session, and I thought perhaps this whole week was just a Flowers for Algernon experience and the window of greatness had passed.

These were today’s stats:

In a 15 vs 15 game a 2% disparity in overall winrate signifies a massive difference in strength, and on what I thought was one of my worst days I performed that much better than my historical average. I was killing more than a whole nother tank per game, doing more than twice as much damage, and instead of surviving one every five games I was still surviving one out of three. It used to be an extremely good day had this 51.5% winrate with >2.0 KDR – and now it was just the opposite. On reflection, I’ve found I now basically expect to win at least 2/3 of my games, kill 3 or more opponents, and survive at least 1/2 of the time.

In this past week I have read no new articles and watched no new videos relating to World of Tanks. I have only played more games. I have been playing no tanks this week that I did not last week, and while I have been trying a few new routes this week on particular maps this is something I do all the time anyways. My strategy and style has been largely the same for the past three weeks or so. Nothing directly measurable has changed.

My mind, however, has changed.

A post written by a fairly famous player states that there are essentially three things that separate a player from being just pretty good (52~55%) and amazing (60+%, as defined by WOTLABS): Activity, Consistency, and Deliberateness. As he defines it, Activity is basically firing more and always looking for a better way to approach the local and global fight, Consistency is about doing the right thing with your tank given the matchup, and Deliberateness is the mental focus for Activity. Activity I’ve been ramping up for a while now, due to playing more slow-firing tanks but still needing to output the same damage flowrate to win/stay alive, and deliberateness is in the same line. Consistency in the form that he mentions I definitely don’t have yet since I basically only have a “light tank” and “heavy tank” mindset.

What I have gained is another kind of consistency.

After a weekend flood of playing with straight-up no-question-about-it tomatoes and being able to keep some grip on my sanity and temper, playing with weekday potatoes shot my winrate through the roof. Being forced to spend a significant amount of energy on keeping myself under control while still wanting to play for wins, I didn’t have any room in my mind for thoughts other than what I thought would bring my team the victory. No doubts or hesitation, only correct moves or mistakes based on what I had understood from my studies and what I thought would be the correct move at the time. If I made the correct move, great. If not, reflect a bit on what went wrong and what could’ve been done better. If a different solution is found, great, do that next time; if not, oh well, just don’t do something similar to that thing that clearly didn’t work. Now that I had that much more mental energy to spend but significantly fewer things to spend it on, I was able to do the correct things much more efficiently.

It’s somewhat akin to a hardening or an annealing. All the things I had learned were indeed useful and they are definitely why I was able to play such good performances this week, but before this weekend those ideas and developing habits sat alongside their bad and counterproductive counterparts in my toolbox of available moves. Before I would just sit and wait for a bit to let the opponent potentially make the first move while I thought about which idea to execute, but this past weekend and now, that sort of doubt or pondering has been erased. If I feel like I want to try something new now, I ask myself and almost immediately answer – if not within two seconds, then I decide when my tank has driven to the last point where a decision can be made without turning around.

There are no more great debates in my mind between two great powerful voices.

Only a “That looks interesting. Shall we do it? Ok gogogo.”

The following is my general mindset in WOT, sorted by tank types. The first three are the main tank types in the game, the latter two are supporting types and generally require assistance from other tanks both to be able to do damage and move forward on the map. With a little translation, I think the Heavies and Lights mindsets can be easily used in playing real world power games.

Now that I know I like playing power games, what I’m interested next is what exactly my style and strengths are. I prefer certain tanks in WOT because of my playstyle; I play these tanks in WOT rather than any class in many other games because of my playstyle – what does this mean for my style in real life, and where can I find games in real life which my style can dominate?

Heavies:
1. PUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSHH
2. Where is the furthest conceivable safe position I can be in at this point in time?
3. If I do not have sente, how do I gain sente? If I have sente, what move can I make that keeps sente?
4. HP is a resource. It is not only something that the opponent takes, but something that has ways for you to correctly spend it. HP generally buys either time or initiative.

5. I can’t die to this guy, I have to be alive so I can kill the next guy.

6. PUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSHHHHH

Lights:
1. I must see the midgame/endgame to fully utilize my strengths.
2. What do I know about the enemy deployment and where are its holes?
3. “General” scouting is generally dumb. Scouting should be thought of as marginal.
4. Don’t shoot unless someone else is already shooting.
5. Don’t shoot unless it’s their sides or their ass.

Mediums:
1. High tier mediums: see Heavies.
2. Low tier mediums: see Lights.
3. Mid tier mediums: depends on specific tank. Pick either Heavies or Lights.

TDs:
1. Fuck TDs.

Arties:
1. Fuck arties.

 

ADDENDUM

Someone else’ll fix it.

And it’ll be me. And I’ll carry until my fucking back breaks. And those worthless fucking assholes will get another win they don’t deserve.

After a whole year of learning and failing to manage/lead/carry engineering project teams I was supposed to take a month off to just relax and play videogames, but apparently I just went from the pool to the pond; from being 1 of 6, 1 of 3, to 1 of 15.

And now I just don’t care anymore. It’s not even a 拖死佢 thing where I’m secretly hiding bitterness, I actually just don’t care whether or not someone’s “leeching” or if I’m carrying people anymore. Obviously it’d be better if every teammate was productive but it doesn’t really matter, and it’s not because of “we’re a team” or some feel-good bullshit.

It’s because what I want is to win. I happen to be playing a team game so I have to defeat more opponents. If my teammates can only contribute the most minimal things then mathematically the rest of it falls on me. If I happened to carry some shitfuckers along the way then they got lucky and I got experience. If there are teammates who appreciate my efforts and work with me then that’s great too. But it’s not the main idea. If it becomes the main idea then relying on other people becomes an MO, and both winrates and relationships will falter.

The idea is for me to win and survive. The rest is built on top of that.

The only difference is in real life there is no big public objective stat tracking board.

The Top 10 Things I Learned of at College [1~6]

I felt like doing something vaguely productive, “productive” being defined as “completing something off my to do list”, and I got bored doing the other things for the time being so here I am. Not entirely sure about this style as a general standard, but it certainly feels nice for a change. “Not sure” only because I feel vaguely lethargic and do enjoy high-tension situations – in a sense that summarizes what I look for in life, but I’ll get to that in a bit. In any case I’m not against doing things only when I feel like because I’ll become some hedonist that doesn’t contribute to society; it’s not like anyone has any delusions that that’s what college students are anyways. How many people actually contribute to society anyways? This is not to say that one shouldn’t try, but worrying about getting there is pointless. Thinking about it more certainly will reveal more possibilities and pathways, how much more who knows, and that’s the point at which this kind of thing needs to be weighed. But I’ll get to that too.

9 of these things are fairly direct and can be taken away easily. One is personal and directed towards myself in the future, though it can probably be extrapolated from with a bit of effort.

They are things I “learned of” “at” college; “learned of” as in started noticing that the concept was important, and “at” as in it happened with events related to that location. I make no claim that this is stuff college tries to teach, does teach, or successfully teaches. I think college is stupid. But other people don’t for some reason so I had to deal with it, and these are what I got out of it.

They are listed in no particular order.

You have margins, you’re fine; you don’t have margins, you’re fucked.

“Margins” being defined as material, energy, mental energy, man-hours, money to redistribute at a moment’s notice. My dad calls it “buffer zone”; in essence it is “being prepared”.

In middle school I pulled all-nighters, in high school I started doing stuff two days before it was due. At the start of college I went back to doing all-nighters, and then at the end I was pushing towards one or two weeks ahead. One of the reasons was because deadlines got more dead, as I no longer was able to spend enough time with teachers to befriend them and have leeway given if it was desired; another reason was because stuff started getting harder to understand or reasonably grasp in the period of time that it was taught in. Perhaps the candidate for the biggest reason of them all was because in K-12 the teachers accepted the margins while in college the professors forced them onto me. If teachers were for whatever reason unable to teach some material in time, they simply didn’t test on it. In college, however, even if the professor is going off doing their own thing at some conference or whatever, they’ll just send you a 50 page PDF instead and expect you to know all of it within 42 hours. I’m somewhat curious as to why professors do this kind of thing, perhaps that particular one could get away with it because he was black? In any case the environment shifts, and you can call it going from “hand-holding” to “self-study” or whatever floats your boat, but none of those analogies clicked for me.

People in general don’t really give a shit if you encountered some problems, you’re expected to deal with them. Short of having an amazing network, an unbelievable set of skills, or an inheritance, extra stuff has to be in place ready to be consumed. Having margins requires some other things, and leads to some changes in the mindset, the greatest of which is “luck” plays a significantly smaller role.

In many videogames I’ve played where the damage output is somehow influenced by RNG, lower-tier players will regularly complain about their deaths being “lucky”. The psychology of character defense/attack is obviously the purpose here but not the discussion at this time. The important thing is that the top-tier players will never complain about RNG, even if there are cases where that it’s a fairly significant problem. This is because they are planned around. In the case of damage being randomized, the simplest possible solution is to simply be in a position where you cannot be hit, as movement is generally left completely up to the player. There is also communicating with your team, watching a minimap, or simply keeping track of who’s alive and dead and where their last known locations were. The idea is to use the strengths available to you to mask the weaknesses you have. While the final shot may or may not be lucky, and surviving with single digit hit-points can always lead to a more intense and memorable game, the act of that is not really one of skill and thus not something to think about too much.

It is entirely possible that even with margins you can still be fucked, but that’s not the point. The idea is to take the opportunity the best way it can be handled. This is not something people who find those intense situations where someone’s barely scraping past, real life or not, as something that’s overcome due to luck or the favor of god or whatever can really see. Consider someone who complains about luck a lot and put them in an intense situation where they’re about to fail, and then give them one more chance. How much faith would you have that they’d be able to take that chance and use it in any optimal way?

They would’ve already relaxed and given up.

The margin here is of mental focus, and by extension, mental capacity.

For my JPN class I wrote two essays, one of which was reproduced here. The second one I did not post because it was of significantly poorer quality. While both of them got top marks, the second one did not have anywhere near the range or depth as the first. The prompts for both essays were the same, take at least one movie shown in the class and write some argument about it. The first essay I quoted from my favorite story of all time, used a handful of books, mentioned a few real world events, cited a 4chan post, and an anime I had watched recently. The second essay I used one movie, and mentioned two other movies in a single sentence. The first essay could’ve been 15 pages with no issue but was compressed down to 9 in interest of increasing meaning density, the second essay had to be stretched every step of the way to get it to reach the minimum.

The disparity in these two essays stemmed almost entirely from the fact that I had not been reading or watching or doing much anything other than engineering senior design since the first essay. I had no time to think about anything nor did I want to. I was basically living the productive adult life of waking up early in the morning, working all day on stuff I stopped caring about with people I hated, coming back to a dark empty home, stuffing something down my throat and then sleeping.

That I got a top tier grade on the second essay only reinforces the idea of margins. Put a different way,

If you want to reliably be an class A, your quality has to be SSS.

Everyone has good days and bad days, encounter fortunate and unfortunate circumstances. Everyone has a distribution, and that distribution filtered through with some randomness (i.e. tests in classroom or real life) is what the final publicized result is. To always be in the top group, you have to be better than those conceived of as the best.

It is vaguely amusing that the common idea of the top tier straight A student is someone who studies every single day as hard as the average student does their all-nighter before the final. The things said about hard work are either said wrong or interpreted wrong, my guess being both and that it’s not a mistake for a significant portion of the population. There’s a missing word there that people mean but don’t say, the full phrase being “hard work now“. Hard work now will get you where you want to be. The more obvious obverse of this hidden word is that it justifies laziness up through the last moment, wherever the user happens to arbitrarily decide is “the last moment”. “Dude I’ve been working on this essay that’s due tomorrow all day long, fuck this professor, assigning a fifteen page research paper” should really not be said by someone who goes partying every night during the main term, but people are pretty near-sighted.

The correct version is hard work always, which for anyone who haven’t caught on is a metaphor because you can’t always be slaving away at a single-minded goal. The idea should at least have some credence for anyone who’s ever pulled all-nighters or worked last minute for everything, because it’s clear that the quality of the rush work at the end is abysmal. Learning and understanding is generally not strictly linear, it’s usually a network of difficult-to-explain nonlinear chains, which is why experience is so valuable and good teachers are hard to find. To be good at something one must desire to take several different routes towards several different destinations, and to do that one must have the energy to do so. I don’t entirely understand the mechanics of physical or mental fatigue, but the simple answer is that it takes a lot of time, and 10,000 hours to master something probably is around the correct order of magnitude. At least 2,000 hours of those are guaranteed to be screwing around with random things – not in the “I stopped playing piano to read Yahoo Celebrity” sense, but in the “I stopped doing Hanon’s exercises to see if I can make up a random nice-sounding tune cause I got an idea”.

Training gives the mental margin for excellent performance during opportunities/crises. But free time/exploration in general is what produces the ideas that will be used in those crucial times.

The second half of the statement is fairly trivial. There are many things in the world you do not control, and if you do not shield or avoid yourself with more than you “need”, you are going to have a bad time.

Record everything.

1) History is a political tool, and 2) It’s stored experience.

1) I first heard about its strength when talking with my dad about my mini capstone project in the fall quarter. I was also team manager back then, and had some people who failed to do their parts on time. He told me about his experiences as the president of some Chinese organization, which he said shared the important characteristic of the group being a bunch of strangers with no strong incentives to link them all together. Can’t really give them money because there is no money, can’t really punish them because they can just leave. In this situation the strongest friend is history, which takes the form of recording minutes and keeping up-to-date agendas. In this way, if someone fails to do their part or keep their word, there is a public record of it. Conflicts change from “self-proclaimed leader against member(s)” to “people lied and are a burden to the team”. These can get so powerful that there have been incidents where the minutes/agenda book was tampered with or stolen.

I cannot say I entirely understand the internal workings of “history”. There are mirrors of this in major league politics so I am inclined to believe that if not his individual story is true then at least the principle in general is true. It certainly doesn’t always work; I wrote agendas every week this quarter in senior design and no one could care less if something wasn’t done on time. But it is certainly a strong tool in some situations, and it changes substance from “my word vs your word” to “evidence”. The cost of simply keeping track of things is low enough to be good to simply always do.

Even if it’s a record not made public until prosecution, the strength in detail of a log written ‘as events occurred’ seems to be much stronger than a testimony given at that point in time.

2) It’s probably not too good an idea to look into things too much and overdiagnose situations, but recording situations in high detail allows for future review. This is in part why I have been changing the format of entries in this blog. I neither like to write nor want to read entries that are aimed at trying to claim some universal principle, or some theory about what direction civilization should move in. Whatever I write will probably be discovered to be wrong in the future, and in the present it just sounds arrogant. I certainly enjoy arrogance and hard-headedness from time to time but as a staple or standard in writing I must disagree. What I am interested in, and what I think people would find most useful, is the story of how the conclusion was reached. Obviously how we think will filter out the details we remember and decide to talk about, and those who disagree with us more will find that more important parts are missing, but the idea remains the same.

This idea I also got from videogames, many of which have replay systems where you can watch from the player’s perspective (and sometimes also from others) what information they had and what decisions they made, as they were making them. Replays are significantly more informative to the player who wants to improve their skills than an article summarizing what occurred in the game and unnecessarily flourishing what are often the most pointless details, namely that such-and-such player of such-and-such team did some move and it had a greater-than-normal effect, which doesn’t say anything about the leadup, the execution, or the followup of what that player did, what the team did, and how the opponents responded in real time. There are limitations in writing and limitations in video that do not allow full replays of real life, but recording in a diary or blog every week or so of major events, even if it’s just a bullet point list, with your major thoughts on each of them, goes a long way in remembering in the future.

The purpose of remembering in the future is not to just learn or improve on the past, but to test the mindset at that point in time. If say at some point in the past you encountered a crisis and comfortably overcame it, but somewhere along the way you changed how you did things and notice that if you encountered it again today you would not like it at all, then some review is to be had. I believe this kind of thing is more common than people think. I randomly encountered the test for Machiavellian behavior the other day and got about the same score that I did previously, but some of the choices I made were the opposite, and for some which I gave the same answer I now have a completely different justification – which would be fine, but I also don’t remember changing my opinion on some things. Writing your thoughts down is a good way to get to know yourself: shifting introspection from a single deep sessions and then forgetting afterwards to smaller ones over time that are easier to remember.

Recording whats “actually” going on in general is also pretty helpful simply because the smallest bit more context can lead to significantly more extrapolation. Originally when I started my quotes collection blog I only planned on doing single lines or monologues. I’ve been doing more and more dialogues though, because this narrows the range of interpretation for the intended meat of the selection and therefore – at least for some – increases the quality and intensity of the message.

If you think you’ve met the worst piece of garbage, you will be shown wrong.

Things can always get worse. This one got its own line because I didn’t realize “people” were in the category of “things”, I didn’t realize it until college, and because it’s actually one of the top 10 things I learned in college. Of itself it’s not too special perhaps, but I’ve historically hated “selling out” and still don’t like writing resumes, cover letters, doing interviews, all the stuff most people don’t like in relation to job applications – and now I can at least justify their face value existence.

People are actually just fucking garbage. I have a vague idea of why there’s the idea that most people are born good or are “nice people once you get to know them”, and they certainly serve their PR purposes, but as actual moves you play out in your head and as actual expectations of the world, don’t expect things out of other people unless you can nail them for it. Most people you can’t nail, at least not to a wall or to the ground, which is what matters. And if you can’t do that, they can do whatever they want, and it’s usually not what you want. Keeping your enemies closer than your friends has a second meaning, namely, that your friends are probably less reliable than your enemies. Your enemies can be relied on to do what’s against your interests, and you know what those are more clearly than you know what your friends’ interests are. Additionally, the line between you and your enemy is clearly defined. The line between you and your friends usually is not. Having and finding a good friend has to deal with margins, namely that both parties do significantly more than is “necessary” for the other. People in general do not set enough or any margins, which leads to unreliability and what feels to the idealist (read: people who think they’ve met the worst piece of garbage) like exceptionally poor performance.

I’ve talked about the experiences relating to this in the previous two entries detailing senior design. There are also some experiences I have relating to the Right/Alt Right blogosphere, but I heard name dropping is bad so I won’t do that. Also because the probability of some no-name blogger name-dropping and actually being helpful to someone is low, and I believe the probability of them crashing and burning is high.

The reason why I specify “friend” in this point is because one of them is going to become the next worst piece of garbage. The lesson is that people are unreliable, but you wouldn’t rely on any random stranger anyways, so the problem shifts towards those you are likely to rely on. You are probably wrong with your reading of some people close to you, and every mistake you fix means that the next problem will be an order of magnitude more serious.

Thinking you have it all figured out “now” should not be a thought you have.

Scoping and rescoping.

Scoping is setting the border around your task, defining what it means. Rescoping is doing it again due to any change.

I wrote about it a bit here, but that was really only about how to think about starting tasks.

Scoping is something I learned in college because it happened to have a lot of things going on without enough information or help to determine what exactly it was I needed to do at what times with what people using how much energy. K-12 is really straightforward and simple so simple dumping energy whenever (“hard work now”) was enough, but at college, with academic jargon everywhere and professors that don’t care going too fast and treating you like you’re only taking their class, it gets too stressful to simply do everything last minute over and over again. Scoping is also required for any large project simply due to the higher requirement of man-hours; in K-12 where group projects could actually be done by any single member in one night the worry of someone flaking was easily negated simply by having mommy help. The capstone project required for the college of engineering here is on a timeline of five months to research, plan, and sometimes build a project, significantly larger than the two-three weeks to make a poster or presentation out of textbook/lecture material.

Talking with my little brother it’s clear that even though I still haven’t a clue on what’s going on in the real world, I have a better idea of how to approach things. I’ll need to look into this more later, but the way things are presented to children it’s very clear that they’re expected to already have an idea of what to do, or alternatively, not need to think about what they need to do in order to do it. Get good grades in school, go to college, find a job, get a wife, own a home, make a family, save for old age – these things sound like checklist items the way they’re talked about. This checklist mentality is reinforced by the way material is standardly taught, i.e. X textbook of Y chapter, see theory/law/lesson Z and practice problems 13-27.

When tied with an objective and a deadline, not knowing what is going on incentivizes attempting to define what is possible at the very beginning.

Rescoping is basically the same thing as scoping but coming from checklisting is a big enough step on its own to warrant mentioning. It’s not too hard to guess and set scope so that there’s plenty more margin than you need on all tasks and learning approximately what each one actually needs along the way, but do that too much and it’s basically another checklist. All plans going FUBAR somewhere along the way and requiring a change strengthens scoping ability, but any kind of rescoping is valuable because it is a reminder that the definition and perspective of what is going on is also a choice. This allows flexibility in thought, which can lead to more optimal results and less waste.

In senior design, an instrument fried at the last second before it was needed and the team member suggested we get some really fancy equipment. He gave some number of arguments, “this is really important”, “we need to get this right”, but I reminded him we actually needed to get that done that day and we had no clue how to get such equipment. We ended up using some “empirical” (read: “redneck”) method that gave us the details we needed without going through any fancy computer program, and the project was turned in on time in a significantly better form than it would’ve been otherwise. In JPN my friend watched something like ten hours of movies the day before the final because he hadn’t watched them. I hadn’t either but I skimmed google synopses for about 30 minutes and was done with it because the important things in my mind was being relaxed and getting up with no problems at 6AM. He ended up getting 6/100 points more on the final worth 30% of the overall grade, meaning he spent 20x more time for 1.8%.

If you have someone to show off to then perhaps that path makes sense; otherwise it’s a pointless endeavor.

Frame Control

Thinking the way you want to think. While redoing the Machiavellianism test I read a funny line on an article, saying that those with higher scores were “better at looking out for their self-interests”. As opposed to what, looking out for the good of society? Selfishness or arrogance, take your pick, I’ll go with “selfish”.

There’s a lot of things out there that are confusing, are deliberately confusing, are distractions or distracting, or otherwise make you forget or lose sight of your goal. It’s hard already because very few of us have a clear idea of what we want or how we plan to get there, but as that’s usually the most unclear we ever get, that’s where we are hit the hardest and most often. Friend says this, video says that, policeman and politician say the other thing, it’s pretty easy to get lost in ideas because there are people who are better at phrasing things than we are. There’s also the less human side of frame control i.e. eating and sleeping well, physical activity, and not doing drugs, but that’s the easy stuff.

If there is concise way to express what fully encompasses a mind which is strong at frame control I do not know what it is. I do have something which seems to cover what I find to be the larger part of what causes me to fail frame control, and is perhaps a candidate. From Mushashi Miyamoto’s The Book of Five Rings:

“People are naturally inclined to respond more powerfully to things happening to them than to things they are doing. This reflex must be overcome so it cannot be used against you.”

I believe frame control has a lot to do with initiative.

Recently I have been picking up Go, the ancient board game played with black and white stones. In a game of go fights usually don’t happen too directly, nor do most conflicts truly resolve until the end of a game. Groups of stones may appear to be dead, but actually making them dead means spending one or several more moves, and is usually not done as there are bigger or more urgent issues elsewhere. So long as they are not dead, however, they can be used as pressure to support other groups and influence the rest of the board. In this game that computers cannot yet beat the best humans at, the biggest problem is what ‘layer’ or ‘level’ you are looking at the game at. The goal is to surround the opponent (and territory), but it’s never really clear who’s surrounding who.

In my experience so far, having initiative (sente) is probably the most coveted thing. Staying alive, getting more territory, and having more influence is important, but having sente means you get to decide what’s going to happen, where it’s going to happen, and if you use it correctly, how it’s going to happen. Games are always “conversations” with the opponent, but having sente means you get to have more say, meaning things will go more favorably and probably end up more comfortably for you, leading to future scenarios where you not only already have a good support structure, but also are familiar with. This is reflected in public media, where whoever gets the first word in usually wins the definitional war. It is also why accusations are so powerful.

Not having initiative however isn’t the end of the world; failing to look for initiative is.

While doing work for senior design I had walked away for a couple of minutes and come back to find that my tool no longer worked. This was because someone had unplugged it from the extension cord I was using and after voicing this and walking towards the tool room to get another one, the guy who had took it said I could have it back. I asked him if he really was done with it, he said yes, and I said it’d be nice if next time he could let me know first. He decided to blow up and get angry, snatching it back right after it touched my hand, going on something about how I was using some student design team’s table, that if I didn’t like it I could move somewhere else, some other short list of things with a voice inflected to indicate high tension. I told him if he wanted me to clean off the table I could do that, if he wanted more space I could give him more space; he said what he wanted was for me to “stop giving him attitude”.

I’ve talked about frame control before but in the examples I gave I pissed people off more. Which is fine, probably not optimal, but in this case I didn’t care for this guy who clearly didn’t know me, didn’t know that I got permission from two of the team’s captains to use and work in the area, didn’t care that I got there first by more than two hours that Saturday morning, and hadn’t said anything at all prior to the conflict about me taking up too much space with the scrap material I had been carving out.

The first idea is that this guy is wrong. If I start believing that he’s right, that I’m out of bounds according to some social etiquette or whatever, then I’ve lost. No problem with losing if that’s what things turn out to be of course. But you need it to be on your terms. If it isn’t, when you’re shown wrong, you won’t understand how you’re wrong, and they’re not about to explain it to you on your terms because you accepted defeat on theirs. And obviously, you aren’t going to be winning anytime soon when it isn’t on your terms. If arguing against your mother on her terms hasn’t worked out, why would it work against anyone else?

The second idea is know your own goal. I wanted the conflict to end. Couldn’t give half a shit who this guy was or what he wanted, or even if I was kicked off the table with my tool taken back. It was clear no one but me cared in senior design at that point so I could just report that some guy had emotional instability and told me to not complete my project and call it a day, I felt overworked anyways. My “teammates” were nearby but they clearly weren’t doing anything to help, and there were other people nearby and they hadn’t done or said anything, so the only things I really had to deal with were what this neckbeard and I had said within the last minute. The total of which amounted to

  • Him taking my extension cord
  • Him getting mad
  • Him talking about me taking up too much of the table
  • Me offering to clean up the mess and shrink my workspace
  • Him saying I’m giving him “attitude”

I was fairly sure the first two items worked against him, and two following were pretty much in my favor, so all I had to do was respond to this “attitude” thing.

Which I responded to with a blank face and silence.

“Attitude” is a very poorly defined word, so as long as I look like I am awaiting an explanation from this kind samaritan who wants to make me a better person, there are no other moves he could make against me. It was not as if I had made any unreasonable statements. Anyone would be frustrated if something they were recently using got taken without confirmation. He hadn’t mentioned this problem he had with me before, that works against him; I offered right away to solve that problem, that works in my favor. All attacks against my character and position were neutralized or working in my favor except perhaps the remarks at the beginning, and everything else was making it look like he was on his period. Granted I didn’t have the samaritan angle in mind, but that’s how it must’ve appeared to at least a few people casually listening. I responded calmly and slowly to everything he said, and our ending positions after that exchange were me standing up holding an inoperable tool, looking slightly down at him without expression, and him hunched over the table, end of a cord in one hand, looking up at me, and angry. All that needed to be done was him continuing to blabber and dig himself into a grave – this I did get; I honestly wanted to know what the literal fucking fuck he meant by “attitude”, and I wanted to get as clear of a definition as he could manage. This would have served the triple purpose of 1) him being and appearing very invested in a personal emotional squabble instead of wanting to get back to work, 2) me actually getting an explanation of what “attitude” means for the first time in my life, and 3) significantly increasing my chances of victory since I had just offered to do what he wanted me to do.

Unfortunately he didn’t actually go down this route. He said something like “Do we have a problem?” To which I of course responded “I don’t have any problems.”

And then I got my thing back and the conflict ended, so I reached my goal.

Everyone I’ve talked to about this said they would’ve ‘taken it outside’, which is vaguely believable, though I’d imagine most of them on the spot would’ve argued directly back about how they weren’t giving any attitude. This move loses frame control, since you are denying something that has yet to be defined, and allows the other party to simply define after you have given your initial defense, making your followup look exceedingly weak. The motivation for this is character defense, namely that you don’t want to be seen as someone “with attitude”, but that’s the opponent’s goal, not the truth. Stopping them from achieving their goal by planting yourself on that goal generally isn’t the right idea. Since frame control is lost, any attempt to take it outside after that point would have looked like a poor move from someone trying to salvage what honor they have left, than someone who sees a random dweeb challenging them to a duel and entertaining the fool.

Control the larger picture of things, and the rest is much easier. The largest picture is how you see the situation.

Timing/Coordination

Most things to be done correctly have to be executed in a certain sequence, a certain configuration, and at a speed not too fast nor too slow.

I don’t know how to write about this in a way that doesn’t overly rehash what I’ve already talked about so I’ll give two quotes. The first is from Bruce Lee’s The Tao of Jeet Kune Do. The latter is from The Book of Five Rings.

“The fighter whose movements seem awkward, who never seems to find the proper distance, is always being timed, never “outguesses” his opponent, and always gives warning of his intentions before they become serious, is suffering chiefly from a lack of coordination.”

“It doesn’t matter what you know.

It matters what you can think of in time.”

And now I’m fatigued of writing so I will finish the rest at a later date.

Psycho-Pass

Pyscho-Pass is the best anime I have seen.

Its greatest strength is that all characters are reasonable. Characters that are shown have their reasoning and personality fleshed out at least to the degree that their screentime and plot importance would warrant. All characters, even the ones which are not part of the previous set, exhibit behaviors and use argumentation that would fit their position and desires. There are zero exceptions to this rule. No one, due to a new piece of evidence or turn of events, suddenly changes character. If anything, Psycho-Pass uses these crises as opportunities to illustrate more on who exactly each person is.

Generally speaking, a cast of multiple strong characters does not appear, and when they do, they are not so numerous, and not in a plot-driven story. In Psycho-Pass, characters are defined by their goals. Neither character nor plot are simply decoration. Even if one views it as simply plot or character-driven, the anime still operates just fine. It was constructed both to satisfy casual consumption and to withstand intellectual scrutiny – though if you attempt the former it will push you towards the latter.

If we ignore a few scenes with poor animation, it is my opinion that Psycho-Pass has no weak points. The anime has at least a reasonably strong showing in every area.

There are only two things that do not make sense: The holo’s source and function limitations, and the Dominator’s power source and output. Neither of these pose a problem in the end because the story isn’t about the technology, it’s about the people who use the technology. This is admittedly a fairly common goal in science fiction, but most stories in my experience do end up getting lost in the baubles. Psycho-Pass gives constant reminders about how the world, with all its changes, doesn’t really change. Perhaps the best example is the office’s cooling system. These days we expect a central HVAC basically everywhere we go, but the office shown in Psycho-Pass is clearly only using three wall-mounted fans. They aren’t built into the wall, they don’t have fancy blades, and they don’t even have a filter or grill for safety. This simpler, rougher aesthetic pervades the entire series, and when it doesn’t appear visually, it reminds you that the environment is only a holo depiction.

Even then it does not attempt to simply beat you over the head with it. In every conflict, the audience is always presented with a choice: which side do you believe, which do you support? It does not attempt to pass judgement with the results. Instead it accepts things as they are, and in every situation draws out actions from the set of most reasonable possibilities at that point in time. Most stories either shoehorn morals afterwards, or do it so poorly that it looks like an invocation of chance / deus ex machina. Neither of these are descriptions of the events in Psycho-Pass.

I should also note my appreciation for the production’s attention to detail. There are many things they did to alleviate inconsistencies and concerns that would regularly be considered as irrelevant. In one of the early opening CGs flying over the city, I thought it was weird that the tallest tower was at the edge of the city, and at the time I passed it off as lack of resources to complete the rest of the city “behind it” – this stemmmed from the common depiction of skylines in anime and elsewhere; the tallest building is always in “the center”. In later ED sequences, Psycho-Pass assured me that the emptiness was not a mistake – it depicted a shoreline of the city, with that very tower right next to it. Another instance is when a character practices quickly reloading a revolver. The character had no training with it beforehand and was going to rely on it, and I like that the project team behind this spent the minute or two of screentime to show the character just drilling something that was important in their thought process.

Of all the dystopian futures written across multiple mediums, I think Psycho-Pass is the closest to the path that we will take. This is largely because it depicts events similar to the ones we have already had in our world, and shows how it is also part of the story’s “Sibyl System”. In America the most common comparisons for dystopias are Orwell’s “1984” and Huxley’s “Brave New World”, but neither of these draw too many comparisons to how the world existed at the time. “This could happen”, the books proclaimed, and readers everywhere responded “Well something else could happen too!”, and so most people just enjoyed them as stories. Psycho-Pass however takes events that have already happened / have been happening and incorporates them. This is the way most change occurs (i.e. not wholly revolutionary). The changes to society in Psycho-Pass, while based on a very specific kind of computer system that operates in a very specific way, do not really change people. There are still people happy with the way things are and in a believable way, not like Orwell where everyone uses words like “doubleplusgood”. In bad situations people are also still relatable. The events in episode 14 have played out in real life multiple times in multiple places; the only difference is that there are no robots with happy mascot costumes, which really doesn’t change anything. The events with the helmets are also believable: people ran when the situation was not favorable, and retailiated when it was. As mentioned earlier, Psycho-Pass does not get lost in its technology.

Technology is just a tool. Having and not having the tool may change the user, and the user may change their strategy and tactics based on what tool they have and what situation they’re in. It does explicitly say multiple times that “in the end it’s just about the users”, but what it finally expresses is not that either, because it’s not as if everything other than ideology and willpower are negligible either. They are important to be sure. But when it comes time to the real thing,

“Isn’t using the net just like using knives for cooking or using paper to write things down? It has nothing to do with good or bad. It’s like, it’s there, so we accept and use it.”

It’s about doing what you can with what you have, and more importantly, that before you can do that, you have to know what you can do and are willing to do.

__________________

Number Justifications:

Story(10): There are some things that probably could’ve been done better. I’m told that basically everything was foreshadowed, but I couldn’t see it at the time so I don’t find them to be relevant arguments. That being said everything that it posited it executed well, so any complaints about how it got there are pretty irrelevant.

My favorite episode was the pilot. I think it did its job well in accurately reflecting the entire series.

Art(9): Akane could’ve been cuter? All around it’s definitely up to Production IG standards, no complaints.

My favorite piece of art… would have to be the Dominator. It too ends up taking its place in the story, theme, and message though, which only makes me appreciate it even more.

Sound(9): I didn’t like the first OP/ED set, the second set was enjoyable – but these are hard to control the outcome of, at least as far as I can tell. The sound effects otherwise though show the same attention to detail as in the story and in the art. When Kogami is speaking to Akane in the elevator, his voice echos a little – these things are rare to see. One would think that an anime with people talking half the time and in suits almost all the time can’t really do much to do in the sound department, but the people on sound behind Psycho-Pass definitely caught my attention and earned their pay.

I will definitely remember the second ED.

Character(10): Largely talked about this in the main review. I see amazing characters here and there all the time, but they’re always surrounded by only one, maximum two, other full characters – and when it is three characters, it’s usually a love triangle story and everything revolves around that. Infinite Ryvius succeeded at having a lot of characters you could remember, but didn’t really make them full characters – it seemed that they were just representatives of ideas or archetypes. Psycho-Pass did basically everything I could hope to see. Every time a new situation came up, I wondered if this time the writers would get lazy? They never did. It always felt like it would be possible, maybe, someday, to meet the agents of the MWPSB. In this, the scenes of Akane in her home and meeting up with her friends were definitely not wasted in building both her character and the Psycho-Pass world.

I like all of the characters by the simple fact that they’re all developed. I think I like Masaoki, Akane, Kogami, and Mika the most though, in that order.

Enjoyment(10): I did marathon it, but I didn’t feel that I had to watch the next episode right then. For most of the series I could simply pause and attend to important matters – but not so much that I could simply forget about it. I can see how both of those have their strengths, and they lend themselves to particular kinds of anime – Steins;Gate needs the marathon feel, and Aria needs the any-time-you-please feel. For the pacing, style, and purpose of Psycho-Pass, this sort of middle ground, or third ground, was where it needed to be. This was where GITSSAC tried to be, I think. Production IG definitely learned from their experience.

Overall(10): I believe Psycho-Pass has a clarity and depth of message and a skillfullness and care of its execution that is unparalleled in this medium.

Old Year Review 2013

I don’t feel like making a new year’s resolution. I don’t particularly like the idea either, for all the usual reasons why someone doesn’t like new year’s resolutions. Mainly because they fail. The one I made last year was a failure on quantitative grounds, but not qualitatively.

My goal is to become a better communicator, my resolution is to read a solid book every two months, and my method is to make the writing on this blog as clear and as clean as its title and the ideas I’ve attempted to write in it.

I read a lot more than I did last year, but the various specifics fell apart as the year moved on. I think I’ve at least learned why I’m a bad communicator in several significant ways.

The method I’ve basically given up on. This blog started off as a place to dump my various posts on facebook that weren’t politically correct, then it was the persona of the blog being my own mentor/priest. But then “All else is Halation” changed from “Revival of Discipline” to “There is Only One Game”, and recently it’s felt more productive to write less – at least less than I might’ve used to. I don’t intend this to become entirely a personal diary or log of daily events so it’s better for time to filter out some less important things. That and I’ve already written that life is surprising – the fact that I wrote two short posts about this has had a larger impact on me than many of my long planned-out posts.

So instead, here’s a list of ten things I gave up this year. “Give up” as in stopped pursuing, ala that proverb or something that you only fail once you give up. The following are things I have decided are not or no longer worth my energy or investment. Conceptually, a list of things you’ve already done is easier than a single line of what you will do. For whatever reason, people like only “looking ahead” though.

But since this “One Game” thing has been shaping my direction pretty well already, I don’t really need to word it into a single sentence.

I do need to formalize my regrets though. This I think is a greater indication of direction from the “year”scale”.

Ten things abandoned in 2013

10. 3d modelling

I don’t like these sorts of programs in general. There are way too many unintuitive and flashy controls in the way of drawing something exceedingly simple – like photoshop, except you can’t even make what you’re making look pretty. I attempted to look into and do a little of Daz3D / Poser / Maya in the 3DX direction. Even more controls. I can’t deal with it.

09. coding

Attempted to learn C++ on the side / for fun. Ran into several troubles here and there with Visual Studio every other step. No one did it with me, no economic benefit in sight, not fun.

08. cycling

It’s fairly clear someone up there does not want me on a bicycle. Three years at college, an accident every year. This year I would have died but got away unscathed, then they decided to send a car at me anyways. That, and it’s clear I’m not in and not getting in the inner circle of the cycling club here, and everyone else is just a money chump. That and it’s just not interesting. Takes too long to actually get suited up to actually even use the bike. Un-exportable skillset. Better to just do pushups; same result of not needing to think and just counting.

07. complaining about things on facebook

no one cares. might as well complain on the streets. better to just talk with a friend or two, about any and all grievances.

06. league of legends

Not dealing with tank meta. s2 adc meta was the golden age, where combat flowed because meta was sustained damage. s3 assassin meta was fine too; the openings were simply more important each time, like it was the same game but more fragile. But now, openings  don’t really exist because it takes so long to kill things by the time you do anything the rest of their team will have arrived. And even if you take it, the guy will respawn with full everything before you take an objective. Hooray for guaranteed 50 minute games? I’ll play igo/weiqi instead, thanks.

05. politics

It’s not interesting, everyone’s delusional, everyone’s a liar, and there are more pressing concerns like actually getting a job rather than worrying about a job rate or policy. Frankly more choice and only important if I’m looking into working in other countries, at which point I’m not doing a democrat/republican comparison.

04. looking for more games

PVE games are necessarily dumb. There haven’t been any good PVP games since the Guild Wars 1 (late Factions) era except for maybe CounterStrike, but I’m suddenly horrible at FPS for whatever reason.

03. college

I’ve been believing too hard. The name of the game is actually “doesn’t matter got paid, doesn’t matter got laid.”

02. discipline

Technically I haven’t, but it’s something I can’t be allowed to really think about or look at. This is not because it is bad, but because it is bad for me to attempt to purify more of it into word or other form. You don’t give negative encouragement to the depressed, you don’t give positive encouragement to the arrogant. More “discipline”, either in the sense of me talking about it or whatever other way it exists on this blog, is counterproductive for me. I’m starting to think the reason I talked about and was able to talk so strongly about it is because I believe it’s one of my strong points. This doesn’t help anything by itself. Like a picture with only light in it, it might as well be blank. I need to be looking in the other direction to balance it out at least a bit.

I have been focusing too much. I need perspective.

01. focus

KS: i wish i was this good at talking with grils
KS: then i could replace you and a number of other people wtih gril equivalents
KS: and have a reaction of “thats cute” rather than “wow” to everything
KS: too bad i get the jeebies after realizing im talking to a girl
KS: or wait thats an old term
KS: i believe its dropping spaghetti now
LX: Talking to grills is easy
KS: is it now
LX: It is.
KS: i dont find talking to anyone particularly easy
KS: except when i do
KS: in which point it happened already so i cant really analyze how it did
KS: maybe its just because there are very few girls around in my major
KS: or alternatively i picked the wrong major
KS: there’s no particular reason to go to the other side of the classroom to talk to the girl
LX: Just do it.
LX: You don’t need a reason
KS: >getting told on girls
KS: >by a middle school dropout neet
KS: how-low-can-you-go.jpg
LX: Almost all of my friends, ever have been girls.
LX: Not counting most of my internet friends.
KS: what proportion of them do you bang
LX: Not enough.
KS: is it a nonzero value
LX: Talking and banging are two different things.
KS: oh, are they
LX: Contrary to popular belief, yes.
KS: im part of popular opinion on this one then
KS: UNLESS
KS: i have a reason to talk to them to begin with.
KS: hence the details above.
LX: You need to talk to her before you bang her
KS: obviously
LX: and the reason to talk to her, is not to bang her.
KS: obviously
KS: so there has to be another reason
LX: You’re in the same class.
LX: There’s your reason
LX: Don’t over complecate it with reasons, just do it.
KS: …
LX: If you spill the sphegetti oh well.
KS: i dont spill the spaghetti if i have a reason
KS: im just a very bad reason generator
LX: Make up a reason
LX: Just go up to her, and say hi.
KS: im not a creative person
LX: Start a convo about your class.
LX: Start simple.
KS: im like haruki from feelbum
KS: i cant just do these things to random people
LX: Whos that again?
KS: MC
LX: Oh.
KS: once i get started i can go anywhere
KS: i can get real close to basically anyone in a ridiculously short amount of time
KS: the first scene/step is what i can’t get down consistently
LX: Is she in your engineering class?
KS: im talking in general
KS: ive done it before
LX: Hm
KS: i failed in the end for various reasons, but they weren’t linked to my start
KS: my start was the generic let’s study together – though i dont remember how i went about it
LX: Talking to random people, regardless of gender takes quite a bit of people skills.
KS: i positioned myself near her and just asked and it went fine, i think it was
KS: oh wait
KS: is it people skills
LX: It is.
KS: is it “people skills” as a category i dont have, or a category that i dont use that has items that i do have
KS: >too analytical
KS: hi
KS: i think i get it, vaguely
LX: Well, use your analytical-self to your advantage.
LX: Use it to hide the fact you may not be good with people
LX: Don’t ask me how to do that.
KS: i just considered the most recent example of friends i got from my SMAD class
KS: i’d just throw out random ideas without any particular hindering of myself consciously to any rules
KS: some people didnt work, some people did
KS: i was actually interested in the conversation and their opinion
LX: There you go.
KS: and then everything else fell into place
KS: now that i think about it
LX: That’s how you start convos with random people
KS: thats basically what i did with that girl too
KS: and a handful of other girls i forgot because it didnt work out on step one
LX: What is “not working” for this example?
KS: discussion didn’t really start
KS: short answer or no answer
LX: Oh okay.
KS: again i have no real problems with everything else
KS: i dont have good people skills but clearly its enough for anyone who decides to talk with me
KS: its said that everyone judges in the first two seconds and their judgements generally dont change
LX: But there are different kinds of people skills
LX: Being able to hold a convo without problems
LX: Being able to start a convo
LX: Are completely different things.
LX: You seem better at holding a convo
KS: >taking communication lessons from a furry middle school dropout neet

i’m never going to get over this
LX: Unless you have a definitive reason to actually start one
KS: thats generally the case
KS: if i think of something
KS: suddenly it has to be definitive

KS: though if i actually paid attention, which i dont for whatever reason
KS: all my friends are friends due to conversations i started without thinking about it

KS: that girl was probably the exception; i was following a pick up artist theory on that and wanted to get in her pants
KS: everyone else, random conversation and random interest
KS: yeah, probably the sole exception

KS: every time i have a particular reason to talk to someone i get the spaghetti

KS: from professors to girls to etc
LX: You’ve sort of confused me.
LX: When you have a reason to talk to someone you drop the spaghetti?
KS: from what i just realized
KS: that appears to be the case
KS: the moment i want to have a particular conversation with a particular person
KS: the more particular that is, past a certain point, spaghetti starts dropping
LX: Okay I see.
KS: so its like a 3 phase thing rather than 2 phase
KS: or maybe 4
KS: but you get the idea
LX: I get the same way.
LX: But I never actually drop the spahgetti.
LX: But, the reason I get like that is I have an overwhelming fear of being judged.
KS: i dont have any fear of being judged
LX: I didn’t think so.
KS: my fear is of doing things imperfectly by some sort of religious/divine/arbitrary standard
KS: so the more i think, the more this standard has specific requirements, the more likely i am to fail those requirements, etc.
LX: Well, let me tell you.
LX: It’s okay to fuck up. lol
KS: im not raised to think that way
KS: the chinese stereotypes are not incorrect
LX: That’s kind of what I thought
LX: Not the chinese steretypes part.
KS: its what i realized when i started putting my head around drawing the other day
KS: i could no longer blame the tablet transition or the program cause even though they werent perfect they were pretty good and i was used to them enough
KS: i still couldnt draw anything to what i wanted
KS: so i was like
KS: why did i think i was good at drawing
KS: its because i was good at drawing – for a 10 year old
KS: i wasn’t an artist, but i was able to compete with artists and look like an artist
KS: solely because i had excellent pencil manipulation skills.
KS: but the older i got
KS: the more clear it was that my “path” could not build any more
KS: like the best steam engine, before internal combustion engines ramped up
KS: or best biplane, before monoplane
KS: best RTS, before MOBA
KS: etc. etc. etc.
KS: was improving the wrong technology.
KS: and my pencil skills were entirely based off of analytics rather than creativity
KS: i can’t create jack fucking shit from my imagination
KS: what i can do is fill in something thats already there
LX: But, drawing and being an artist are different.
LX: Being able to draw something, and being able to create something.
LX: Are not the same thing
KS: an artist can be a drawer. a drawer cannot be an artist.
KS: this was not clear to me up until a couple of days ago.
LX: That’s where you’re wrong though
KS: oh is that so
LX: Like any art form, it takes practice.
LX: If you’ve just started trying to imageine your own things
KS: im not saying i have no skills; im sure a lot of it can be ported over
LX: Of course it’s not going to come out perect.
KS: im using this relating back to what we were talking about for convos
KS: i can’t “create”
KS: from a truly blank slate i can’t create
KS: my personality is not creative
KS: its an imitator
KS: that being said
LX: I think you’re looking at it too objectively.
KS: all the best events were out of unpracticed creativity.
KS: i dont understand that criticism
LX: You think that you are inable to do something, just because you haven’t been able to do it
LX: For example creating your own drawing
LX: Let me think of how to explain oit.
LX: It’s going to take a second.
KS: revving up the brain…
LX: [brain intinsifies]
KS: may i recommend green tea and sour worms
KS: do you need some help
LX: No. :3
KS: i doubt you wouldve figured out how to explain top lane to me without me giving you directions
KS: >teacher getting directions from the student
KS: i dont have all day wolfy, i got a final to sleep for
LX: The best way I can think to sum up my thoughts on how you think you’re doing it incorrectly is
LX: Is that because you’re not doing it perfectly, you’re doing it wrong.
LX: Which, is wrong.
LX: you don’t need to do it perfectly to do it correct. wether it be making up and idea for a character to draw
LX: Or making an idea to talk to someone
KS: not something i have a problem with if i dont give a shit
KS: it is if i start giving a shit
LX: But, you do/.
KS: sure but not all the time
LX: That’s not quite the idea I’m getting.
LX: You seem to care more than you let on.
KS: of course
KS: i said i understand kazusa, didnt i?
LX: Yea
KS: im saying there are instances in which i am OOC
KS: and those instances are where i ironically have the most success
LX: OOC?
KS: Out Of Character
KS: in this case
KS: not giving a shit
KS: you think i was looking for plat level material when i contacted you?
KS: i just found it interesting that /vg/ kept saying
KS: FUCK OFF LAXERIS
LX: As you’ve said.
KS: when it was some silver 4 fiora main who’s obviously a waifufag of not very high tier tastes
KS: wasn’t so i could “get gud” or anything like that
KS: it would be for a time, later
KS: but when i contacted you, none of that was running through my head

KS: for whatever reason i dont learn from these experiences

KS: or didnt
LX: What do you mean?

KS: youd think that of 20 years of experience
KS: id be able to figure out
KS: the correlation between what i thought was caring/focusing and my success rate was the opposite of what it should be
KS: but it took me about 21

Homework vs Projects

In K-12, the difference was always distinguishable.

In college, that difference was no longer clear. In a quarter system where “midterms” happen every week for four out of a total of ten weeks, it was one of many terms that no longer made sense from their old definitions and environments.

Projects used to be a big deal, something that would happen once or twice a year, and took up a significant portion of your grade. Now, in a non-insignificant proportion of classes, it seems like it’s just an arbitrary decision that assignments are called projects rather than homework. Projects also used to be fairly open ended, everyone’s favorite examples being something along the lines of gluing macaroni onto popsicle sticks and decorating them with glitter. They were, so long as you did them, essentially free points, as you can’t be criticized for something open-ended. That went away too, when projects were suddenly gradable on a various number of items. So what’s the bother? Are they now simply called projects the same reason why many minimum-wagers are called “sales associates”?

I have found at least one legitimate reason why they are different.

This past quarter I took a class in Space Mission Design. The first half was subsystems focus, and the second half was constructing a preliminary design. For various reasons I signed up to be on the Mission Concept/Manager team, which for the first half would actually design the mission and then for the second half, formulate the architecture of a mission that would fulfill those requirements. This sounds like an open and shut thing, “design something simple, and then you already know what goes into it so that’s that”.

The only part that was as simple as you’d think was the initial research. The professor told us was what the topic of the mission had to be about, and what he wanted to see from us by the end of the quarter – that was it. Researching was just starting at google and wikipedia and going wherever the links or interesting phrases took us. Actually designing the mission was a pain, and not because the designing was hard. From the standpoint of a fourth year undergraduate engineering student who’s only ever done assignments based on theories or equations from textbooks, having an idea of even what kind of scale would be reasonable or acceptable for a space mission in general, much less a scale for a space mission for a fourth year undergraduate class is a completely different kind of problem.

What makes something reasonable? What makes something unreasonable? Why should the mission have these kinds of requirements, rather than something else? Largely, the research did not help us narrow down any options at all. Certainly the laws of physics and bounds of 2013 engineering have constraints, but that’s still a very vast solution space. We know certain things we need to have in our mission, but it was a list of 10 or 12 things long. At most we’ve been trained to think about things in 3 variables and 3 equations so there’s a single solution by the end, but we can’t hold 10 variables in our head and couldn’t determine any sort of 10 equations to either write down or code into a computer. How do we start?

Where do we start?

What the mission concept team turned in at the end resulted from one idea thought up arbitrarily and iterated two or three times total. One member had a random idea, and the rest of us noted that certain things had to happen, so he added more detail and changed a couple of things around so everything would seem more cohesive… and that was that. The mission requirements we came up with were barely if at all informed by any of the classes we’ve taken from whatever prestigious professors under this accreditation by some prestigious organization in our four years at our supposedly prestigious university. There was a total of two instances in which we used equations in those four weeks, and the important thing was not so much that we knew what equation it was or were able to use our calculators correctly, but that we knew that the mission should have those parameters. In other words, we were aware that the problem existed, and what order of magnitude it was on, +/- 1. The other 10 things were all from the research we did ourselves those four weeks. We didn’t know how important which one was, we had no experience – and this was a field where no one had done a mission yet. None of us liked the fact that we didn’t know really what was going on or what should happen. That one idea that one member came up with was the only one that we had though, and survived any kind of question we were able to articulate, so we had to run with it.

This problem did not simplify in the second half.

Now that I was a mission manager, I had to organize and put together the subsystems that’d go into whatever my new team thought would be the best idea to complete the mission specs by. I had some idea of what I wanted, but nowhere near the accuracy I’d need to put together what we needed to have in five weeks. We had to have numbers for power, mass, and volume, and specific choices for most of our components i.e. which solar panel made by which company has how much lifetime and power supply under what conditions, etc. Each item only has six or so variables to worry about (power, mass, volume, feasibility, robustness, primary criterion for that part), but this is impossible to visualize all at once even if you only have twenty different components on your spacecraft. A hundred and twenty interacting variables? Good luck doing that by hand, and even better luck to you if you want to code that into a program with any sort of accuracy. What program would you even use? How would you do it? This isn’t as simple as a 120×120 matrix and then doing RREF, a wattage requirement and a feasibility assessment aren’t stuff which have an international standard converter for units inbetween them.

The solution, however, was the same as the first half.

Pick one thing, then run it through all the hoops.
If it doesn’t survive, change the part that looks like the problem.
If that seems like too much work, go back to the first step and pick something else.
Repeat until it can survive all the hoops.

“But it can’t possibly be that simple”?

There’s no magic to it. The only differences between someone who hasn’t taken any engineering and someone who’s able to complete a class like this is 1) a sense of scale, 2) knowing what to look for, and 3) persistence. This is true in general. The difference between an artist and a non-artist, for example, is that one 1) knows what scale of piece can be produced given whatever relevant constraints, 2) the abilities and resources currently available and where to obtain or search for more, and 3) the first stroke. Paintings are not magic; just go to youtube and type in “speedpaint”. Buildings are not magic, again look up timelapses of skyscraper construction. Resources and knowledge are the separators, not some sort of unobtainable thought process that is magically bestowed upon you after some class.

The third is the difference between a “homework” and a “project”.

In “homework”, you know that the lesson this past week or lesson was from whatever chapter for whatever theory, meaning that your homework must be under that domain and the questions are designed so that simply having that theory in mind will result in fairly clear-cut answers.

In “projects”, you have to guess what theories apply, and how those theories interact with each other. Not “figure out”. Guess.

Perhaps some of the other things you’ll figure out later, but how do you figure out anything at the start? “Figuring” is the colloquial term for “solving”, and in mathematical terms that means “determining a single solution”. In other words, there are no degrees of freedom left. When you first approach a project, or more broadly, a problem, all you know is that something is bugging you. How it’s bugging you may or may not be clear. How you go about solving that is definitely not clear in the slightest. How do you start it?

“How do you start it?” is not a valid question. “How” is a method, a style, an error-correction or editing mechanism. In spacecraft, “How” would Guidance/Navigation/Control. “Start” is a concept of a different sort. In spacecraft, “Start” would be filed under Propulsion, specifically under the ignition mechanism. There is no GNC in the ignition, just as much as steering wheels don’t affect spark plugs, or your keyboard affecting your power supply’s on-off button. It is also an incorrect question because the assumption is that you only start once. Who said you’ll finish it all perfectly and completely in one go? Does your car engine always start on the first spark?

Projects require you to project, and the very idea of projecting a smaller object into a larger space should even to the least physics-inclined mind be obvious that it’ll be impossible to fill it all completely and that’s that. Maybe there are errors in the expansion, maybe there are anomalies in the space, maybe something broke and didn’t work. These are all potential problems. Maybe they don’t occur and you’re lucky, but they are potential problems.

The best thing you can do is “just do it“, and take it as fast as you can – namely, one at a time. No point in worrying about “if you could”; you can’t. If there are no solid absolute rules to begin with, you must make them up, because you must start. Deride them for being “assumptions” later, and justify them after that. Deny even the first starting point and you fall into the abyss.

Homework you can do or envision all at once, at least per problem. This is because you are told to accept a large number of thing as true, with only a handful of degrees of freedom to worry about – more often than not, only one. Projects, you cannot.

Life and real problems, you cannot.

A godfather of the modern study of problem solving is economist and polymath Herbert Simon (1916-2001). Simon, recipient of the 1978 Nobel prize in economics, spent most of his career at Carnegie Mellon University, a school with strong computer and robotics programs. He was one of the many economists of his day making use of computer models.

Simon was so taken with the computer that he examined how people solve problems as a means of exploring how computers might be programmed for similar tasks. In Human Problem Solving (1972), Simon and colleague Alan Newell published results of studies in which volunteers performed a variety of number or word puzzles. A later publication, Scientific Discovery (1987), attempted to reconstruct, through historic accounts, the individual reasoning behind a number of celebrated scientific breakthroughs.

In both humble puzzle solving and great scientific advances, Simon found nothing fundamentally mysterious. People parlayed justifiable hunches into testable hypotheses, negotiated a few false turns, and ultimately arrived at a “right answer”. Never did a puzzle’s solution or a scientific advance depend on a totally out-of-left-field “inspiration.”

Simon and colleagues popularized a number of terms that are now in wide use. One is “solution space.” This means roughly the set of all potential solutions to a problem. When a computer program plays chess, it “searches a solution space.” It examines all possible moves (and countermoves, and counter-countermoves, as far ahead as is practical) in order to find the most advantageous ones.

Simon believed that searching a solution space was a model for how people solve puzzles or even how scientists such as Kepler and Planck achieved great breakthroughs. The notion of a solution space has been hugeely influential. When you are trying to program a computer to solve a problem, identifying a solution space is extremely desirable. Then the software can search the set of solutions, using the impressive speed advantages that computers have.

There are a number of limitations to this approach. Many problems have solution spaces that are too astronomically large for even the fastest computers to run a brute-force search. (Computers can’t play “perfect” chess for this reason, even though they can beat human grand masters.) Equally vexing is the possibility that the solution space may be ahrd to define and/or irrelevant. Solution spaces often seem to have little to do with the way that people actually solve problems.

“Which way should a key turn in a car door?” In a narrow sense, you might say the solution space consists of two possible answers: “clockwise” and “counterclockwise.” That’s missing the spirit of this question. Microsoft’s little riddle is really asking you to give a good reason for your answer. The number of possible reasons for turning a key clockwise or counterclockwise is bigger than two! It’s more realistic to say that the ensemble of possible reasons is the real solution space (and this ensemble defies accounting).

In general, puzzles and riddles have solution spaces that are difficult to define. It is not immediately clear what the scope of the problem is or what types of solutions might be legitimate, much less right. This is what makes AI such a formidably difficult enterprise. On a much more modest level, it is what makes certain questions so difficult to answer in job interviews.

Much recent work in cognitive psychology has pulled back from Simon’s optimistic view of rational problem solving. Some recent analyses send the message that no one knows how to solve a problem until he or she solves it. In contrast to Simon’s solution space, Harvard psychologist David Perkins speaks of a “clueless plateau.” If the space of possible solutions is a landscape, and the right solution is somewhere on a big plateau over there, then you’ve got to search the whole plateau (and are clueless about where to start).

Perkins likens the solvers of puzzles to prospectors looking for gold in the Klondike. There is not much rhyme or reason to where the gold is. You might say that prospecting is pure luck (“the luck of the Klondike”). At a deeper level of analysis, some prospectors are better at finding gold than others. That is because they accept the “randomness” and deal with it. Their search for gold is not random, it is a methodical survey in which they are sensitive to such geologic clues as do exist.

This view of problem solving is neatly captured in Microsoft’s weird puzzle (or antipuzzle?) that asks how you would find a book in a library. Zen master Shin’ichi Hisamatsu said that all koans (Zen riddles) really boil down to “Nothing will do. What do you do?” This is Microsoft’s version of that. There’s no way of locating a book – how do you locate the book? People are baffled, not because this is a hard question but because it offers so little purchase to logic.

Obviously, the answer can’t be something such as “I’ve memorized the Dewey decimal system, and the book is on the nineteenth shelf, three aisles over to the left.” You haven’t been told what the book is, the library may or may not use the Dewey decimal system, and even if it did, the books could be laid out any which way on a floor plan that could be anything. There is no way of deducing the book’s location, ALl you can do is “search the solution space” – the library itself – as efficiently as possible.

– p.92 – 94, William Poundstone, “How Would You Move Mount Fuji?”

There has to be an answer. You must not doubt that.
If you can’t believe that, why don’t you cry yourself to sleep, and then just give up and die?

– Eva Ushiromiya, Umineko no Naku Koro Ni: End of the Golden Witch